Former Australian cricketer Merv Hughes remains one of the sport’s most celebrated figures.
Not only was the Victorian an entertaining character within the national squad, but Hughes finished his international career with 212 Test wickets at a commendable average of 28.38.
However, the cult figure’s Test career got off to a horrific start — after he was named in Australia’s squad to face India at Adelaide Oval in December 1985, Hughes finished with match figures of 1/123 from 38 overs.
To make matters worse, the 24-year-old also recorded a fifth-ball duck and dropped a couple of catches in a horror introduction to international cricket.
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Merv Hughes played 53 Test matches for Australia.Source:Getty Images
Speaking on the Keeping it Realpodcast, Hughes revealed the scathing assessment from former Australian captain and Channel 9 commentator Ian Chappell — who was one of his childhood heroes — after his debut served as a brutal “kick up the backside”.
“People often ask if you ever forget your first Test match, and I’ve got my hand up. No matter how hard I try I’ll never be able to forget my first Test match,” Hughes said.
“Possibly two or three dropped catches … it wasn’t a great start to international cricket.
“Ian Chappell, out of the commentary box, he was someone that as a young bloke was one of my heroes. The big three when I was coming up were Rod Marsh, Ian Chappell and Dennis Lillee.
“Ian Chappell said, ‘The problem with Mervyn Hughes is he thinks he is a fast bowler. He should go back and concentrate on bowling medium pace and just tighten up a little bit and not give runs away.’
“That’s the biggest kick in the backside I ever got. It was an interesting first Test match.”
Former Australian Test captain Ian Chappell.Source:Getty Images
Hughes was not the only Australian cricket great who struggled to have an impact on debut. Seven years after Hughes’ disastrous initiation, a young Victorian leg spinner named Shane Warne would claim the forgettable figures of 1/150 in his maiden Test match, coincidentally also against India.
Even more surprising, Sir Donald Bradman made his Test debut in an Ashes Test against England in 1928, and recorded scores of 18 and one. As legendary singer Paul Kelly lamented, “They dropped him like a gun”.
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